Over the past few years, businesses have faced numerous challenges in the market, including factors like Covid, soaring bills, and rising wages. These have all contributed to a significant ‘cost of doing business’ crisis which has no doubt kept many leaders awake at night.
After all that, many firms will have been delighted to see recent research from Adzuna revealing that vacancies are filling at the quickest pace in seven years, with roles advertised on job boards for an average of just 37 days over the last year compared to 44 days previously.
Maybe this was a sign that we’ve turned a corner and businesses are set for a period of less financial pressure? We all hope so.
However, these figures also shed light on a different issue that many businesses face – namely, how to ensure a business stands out from the crowd in a hugely competitive market without injecting huge financial resource in simply raising salaries.
Of course, competitive pay is vital but a salary arms race to offer the highest wages on the market is not only unsustainable, it’s also unlikely to help long-term employee retention. After all, there is always going to be another company looking to offer a slightly higher basic salary.
Continually hiking salaries over the long-term can have a huge impact on growth and profitability whilst simultaneously requiring significant senior resource and a high risk of losing vital talent. Businesses, therefore, need to understand the shifting priorities of workers in areas like wellbeing if they’re going to meet growth plans and flourish during the current financial landscape.
Forward-thinking employers have long known that total renumeration goes beyond an employee’s monthly pay packet.
Personalised benefits packages can help employers to stand out amongst a competitive landscape and boost the overall employee experience. For example, we know that more employers are considering wellbeing as an increasingly critical element of a benefits package and are implementing this in an array of different ways, from provision for mindfulness sessions, to yoga classes and a certain number of mental health days.
A flexible package that includes these types of benefits and is tailored to a workforce’s needs, which could also include modern, progressive benefits like menopause support, financial education tools or a work-from-home allowance, is hugely valuable for an employee.
And given that there are reports that workplace stress levels are the highest they’ve ever been, the need for this type of support from employers is more crucial than ever. Despite this, the challenge has often been in ensuring that employees see this too and understanding what needs to be done.
As employee benefit offers become more varied and tailored, businesses are now turning their focus to how to make employees aware of the full value of their packages. This is most clearly seen in the increasing numbers of businesses introducing Total Reward Statements to employees – a simple and effective tool of highlighting exactly what an employee is worth and the total value of their benefits package.
Though a business may have a great benefits package to support in areas like wellbeing, it can often sit underused offering poor value for money to both employer and employee. Offering a total reward statement can be a great way to solve this issue, presenting employees with their benefits in a clear and simple form.
Previously building employee benefit platforms to showcase total reward statements has been extremely resource intensive – with many options ending up expensive, time consuming and notoriously difficult to implement.
The adoption of new technology solutions is changing this. Zest for example, can be implemented within a matter of days and integrated with existing benefit providers and suppliers, making it suitable for businesses who want to make changes swiftly and avoid reworking their existing benefits offering.
However, offering personalised benefits packages is only possible and effective if employers are able to accurately track the benefit take-up and communicate with their workforce to truly understand their needs.
Fortunately, businesses have a wide array of data and analytical tools at their disposal to not only understand the needs of their workforce when it comes to benefits packages but also to leverage these insights to improve take-up.
Often, however, there are frustrating gaps in this data, with some platforms unable to track metrics such as take-up or provide insight into specific teams or across certain demographics in the workforce. Employers need to ensure that they have access to the most accurate tools which can offer improved segmentation and greater insights ensuring they are more informed of employee needs and better placed to engage with their workforce on their specific requirements. This can be the difference in boosting take-up, value for money and employer experience simultaneously.
In many businesses, tried and tested methods such as HR workshops to boost awareness and understanding of the benefits available remain integral. This approach remains effective for smaller businesses and on a team level, however, to get an organisation-wide view in larger companies, then leveraging data insights into take-up is the best option.
Businesses who can get this right are much more likely to offer a truly compelling overall benefits package. As employee priorities shift away from being primarily motivated by things like salary, those who recognise and act on the growing desire from workers for an employer that recognises the importance of areas like wellbeing can elevate themselves from the competition as the race for talent hots up.
Matt Russell is the CEO at benefits technology platform, Zest. Matt brings over 20 years of experience in the HR and benefits sectors and has previously held senior positions at HR-software business CIPHR, and benefits platform provider, Benefex. Matt has a long, successful history of leading large teams across multiple regions, executing global and enterprise sales strategies and M&A.